Bill Weld

It's Official: Bill Weld Announces Primary Challenge to Donald Trump

The first Republican to primary the president is an ex-Libertarian worried about debt, divisiveness, and decorum.

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Bill Weld, the 73-year-old former federal prosecutor, two-term governor of Massachusetts, and 2016 vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party, announced Monday afternoon on CNN that he is officially running for president in the Republican primary against incumbent Donald Trump.

"I really think if we have six more years of the same stuff we've had out of the White House the last two years, that would be a political tragedy, and I would fear for the republic," Weld told CNN's Jake Tapper. "So I would be ashamed of myself if I didn't raise my hand and run."

In an announcement press release, Weld called himself a "Reagan Republican" who "knows that America can still be that 'shining city on a hill.'"He declared that "it is time to return to the principles of Lincoln—equality, dignity, and opportunity for all," and stressed such non-Trumpian themes as "the rule of law, a free and open press, and America's global leadership." The accompanying campaign video touted among other things Weld's record as a "crime fighter," while leaving his Libertarian adventure of 2016-2018 unmentioned.

As he has since announcing an exploratory committee two months ago, Weld Monday stressed four Trump demerits: The president's deliberate divisiveness, casual disregard for the rule of law, incuriosity about climate change, and fiscal profligacy.

"Donald Trump is not an economic conservative; he doesn't even pretend to be," Weld told Tapper. "And, you know, the country deserves to have some fiscal restraint and conservatism and cutting spending in Washington, D.C. Right now all that really is coming out of Washington is divisiveness, and both parties are responsible for that, but the grandmaster of that is the president himself. I've never seen such bitterness in this country."

One of the main reasons Weld is alone so far in challenging Trump within the GOP is that the market fundamentals he faces are just brutal. The president's approval rating among Republicans has remained between 88 percent and 90 percent for the past five months, according to Gallup. Trump raised more than $30 million in the first quarter, and has consolidated power within the Republican National Committee to a degree frequently characterized as "unprecedented." And the early head-to-head polling, if anything, is worse.

An Emerson nationwide survey released this week has Trump beating Weld by a staggering 70 percentage points. More ominously, the same company this month found a 64-point margin in Weld's home state of Massachusetts. The Weld campaign has a theory that if New Hampshire polls start creeping toward the high 20s, then you're near the "Buchanan benchmark" of 37 percent back during Pitchfork Pat's 1992 primary challenge to then-president George H.W. Bush. You have to squint awfully hard to see such optimism in the numbers, but then, there are still 300 days between now and the New Hampshire primary.

"It is a long shot. But it's certainly less of a long shot than Donald Trump was when he announced and no one thought he was serious," Weld's longtime political adviser Stuart Stevens told the Washington Post. "Tonally, he's going to run a very different campaign. He's not mad at the world. He's not a victim."

One challenge Weld faces among Republican and libertarian-leaning voters alike is his track record of slippery political allegiances and policy positions. In May 2016, during a contentious two-round ballot fight to become the Libertarian Party's vice presidential nominee, Weld was repeatedly asked by the then-dropping out V.P. challenger Alicia Dearn to promise never to "betray" the L.P., as many believe he had done during a botched New York gubernatorial bid in 2006.

"I'm a Libertarian for life," Weld said, trying to make the awkward moment go away without precisely answering the question. Dearn pressed him, saying that "betray," to her, just meant leaving the party, to which Weld declared: "Libertarian for life means not going back to any other party."

To the surprise of many in the L.P., Weld after the 2016 seemed to stay true to that vow, making the state-party convention circuit, endorsing Libertarian candidates, and talking about the need for America's third party to take the 2020 presidential election "seriously." As recently as last the second half of 2018 he was describing his separation from the GOP as being "Free at last," arguing in a Reason debate with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) that "If we want a new broom to sweep things clean in Washington, the answer is not the R party or the D party. It is the Libertarian Party," and declaring that it is "our bounded duty to destroy by every means at our disposal" the "two-party monopoly." He switched to the GOP just three months later.

On Monday, Tapper asked the newly re-minted Republican whether he would "run as an independent" in case the primary challenge fell short. Weld's answer contained loopholes you could drive a truck through. "No, no, I don't think so," he said. "But I could not support Donald Trump for president. I'm not saying I would ever endorse a Democrat in this race, but I could not support the president."

As per usual with the orange-haired Brahmin, Weld's announcement Monday produced mixed reactions among libertarians. L.P. National Membership Manager Jess Mears, who worked on the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld campaign in 2016, was magnanimous.

Fox Business Network's Kennedy, who eviscerated Weld after his infamous last-minute "vouching" for Hillary Clinton on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, was somewhat less enthused.

Fifth place 2016 finisher Evan McMullin, though, is stoked.

Weld, at a year older than Trump, would be the oldest president in U.S. history. He hasn't won an election in a quarter century, back when Pete Buttigieg was 12. He's a deficit hawk in an era of debt denialism, a proudly elite globalist in a time of ascendant populist nationalism, and a pro-choicepro-amnesty Republican who backed Barack Obama in 2008 and urged major-party voters in 2016 to choose Hillary Clinton over Trump. There have been more improbable campaigns, but not many.

Reason has interviewed Weld many times, producing the kinds of comments over the past three-plus years you would not normally expect from a competitive Republican politician. "The Libertarian Party is more congenial to me, dogmatically, ideologically, than either of the other two parties," he told me in November 2017, while vowing that he was going to stay in the L.P. "Because the Democratic Party is not fiscally responsible and the Republican Party is not socially tolerant."

We shall soon see whether the GOP is tolerant of internal political competition, or whether Trump will be no more bothered by Weld than Richard Nixon was by Pete McCloskey.

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  1. All the problems in this country could be fixed by more immigration.

    1. No, but many problems will be solved by fewer bigots, less superstition, and more liberal-libertarian mainstream progress, effected against the wishes and work of right-wingers.

      Carry on, clingers. After you conclude that meeting of Libertarians For Bigoted Walls And Authoritarian Immigration Practices.

      1. Funny you appear to be a progressive bigot. Bill Weld??? seriously?
        HRC supporter .. Believer in Big Government ? This is the best Libertarians can do? Libertarians hijacked by progressive twits

        1. Reason turns into the New Republic a bit more every day.

    2. This is not really a reply but I’m not seeing a way to post a new comment. As a Libertarian I was a bit bummed when Weld re-registered an an R even though I was not really a fan of him. However I think his reasoning in entering the Republican primary is sound even if all he does is weaken Trump a bit. He originally said he also hoped that his jumping into the race would encourage other more plausible candidates to do so. So far that hasn’t happened but if he does well in NH it might.

      I’m a registered Libertarian in CA but I since the Libertarian primary vote doesn’t really matter I will likely re-register Republican to vote for Weld — if he gets this far. I hope other Libertarians will do so as well.

  2. Given the choice of two insufferable saffron coiffed aspirants, take the less oleaginous one.

    Yes, Virginia, Brahmins can be oleaginous. They can also be mendacious.

  3. Great, a year and a half of Americans being reminded that Weld was the “libertarian” vp candidate. Uhg.

    1. The only silver lining is that maybe he’ll make the republicans look as dumb as he made libertarians look when he ran as (but never really was) a libertarian.

      1. Except the LP actually nominated him.
        Great call

        1. No kidding. This turd won’t get any delegates at all. He’s just embarrassing himself.

  4. I would fear for the republic.

    Take a pill Bill. I’m no Trump fan, but as a nation we’re so fucking weak that he’s a threat to the Republic?? Jumping jeezus on a pogo stick. I told the same douchebags on the right four years ago Obama wasn’t going to destroy this country. It’s the same bullshit every four years – “we’re all going to die!!” Wash, rinse, repeat.

    1. You know who I do fear?

      Grifters looking to soak people for political donations. Few people are more up for sale than Weld.

      1. Why do you fear that? Fools and their money…

    2. Bill Weld is no threat because he cannot win.

      He just becomes another clown Democrat that the media discusses ad nauseam so real issues are not discussed honestly and openly.

      Luckily, Trump will be reelected and continue to roll back government.

      1. There just aren’t enough slack-jaws remaining in America to give Trump another longshot run through the Electoral College.

        1. “There just aren’t enough slack-jaws remaining in America to give Trump another longshot run through the Electoral College.”

          Seems there weren’t enough bigoted assholes to give the nod to that hag.
          You lost, bigoted asshole, and it remains amusing.

    3. Obama did a massive amount of damage to the republic, and the world in general. He ensured Iran will have nuclear weapons and gave them $150 billion to boot. Among so many other horrible things, like Obamacare.

  5. “I’m a Libertarian for life,” Weld said.
    In an announcement press release, Weld called himself a “Reagan Republican”.

    ‘nuf said – – – –

    1. Weld is neither of those things. Just a RINO shitbag conniving for power and relevancy after his fifteen minutes of fame are long since over.

    2. Weld is an embarrassment to the LP. An opportunist.

      Good riddance… his presence on the ticket in ’16 was not a positive.

      1. Gotta wonder…has there been a worse Libertarian than Johnson?

        Even Bob Barr didn’t unleash Weld on them

  6. “The first Republican to primary the president is an ex-Libertarian worried about debt, divisiveness, and decorum.”

    Oh yes, we all remember the ex-Republican Libertarian VP Candidate promoting the Democrat candidate. Weld has the ability to bridge the gap between the parties like not even the most liberal Republican could.

  7. Weld is an asshat.

    If he had a chance, he’s sniff Hillary Clinton’s undies and jack off.

    1. While wrapping his mouth around the scrotum of Billy Bulger.

    2. That’s a vulgar way to describe it. I’d say Weld would be wise enough to recognize Clinton was literally the most qualified Presidential candidate ever.

      1. Please excuse my vulgar language. I was brought up poorly and uneducated in the hills.

        Your are right, Hillary Clinton was the most qualified presidential candidate ever. Even more so than Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, and FDR.
        It’s a shame her talent is going unused and unappreciated.
        Her face should be on Mount Rushmore.

        1. Maybe they should put her pussy on Mount Rushmore since that was what everyone was voting for.

          1. Damn you for that imagery.

            1. Hewn from the living rock! A vast chasm!

              1. Lot of fungus on that rock!

      2. My god are you serious? Another Progressive Libertarian (whatever that is ) wetting his/.her/it’s pants over HRC. I want to vomit. The real problem with HRC is that everyone exclaims her credentials except they cannot name accomplishments. BTW Weld is likewise an embarrassment for his lack of accomplishments.

    3. This is exactly the kind of comment that make coming here such a joy.

  8. It is a long shot. But it’s certainly less of a long shot than Donald Trump was when he announced and no one thought he was serious…

    For multiple reasons, no.

    Tonally, he’s going to run a very different campaign. He’s not mad at the world. He’s not a victim.

    Unlike Trump, he’s again going to be singing his opponent’s praises?

    1. At the end of his failed primary challenge, I bet he vouches for whichever Dem has the top poll results of the week, and no one notices.

    2. “It is a long shot. But it’s certainly less of a long shot than Donald Trump was when he announced and no one thought he was serious…”

      They laughed at Jenner, they laughed at Tesla and Einstein…

      …of course, they also laughed at Leslie Nielsen, whom Weld more closely resembles (physically – Nielsen is a better all-around human being).

  9. Man, I can feel the Weldmentum building. This is the closest the L.P. Has come to the White House.

    Oh, maybe it’s just my breakfast bran muffin.

    BRB

    1. I peg my own enthusiasm at about 10% of yours.

      I mean, I hope your muffin is ok, but I don’t really care.

      1. that’s ok.

        While adequate bowel function is a concern for everyone. It doe snot have to be a shared concern.

        1. Yes but it is true and the talk of Weld reminds me how badly I want a bowl movement.

  10. The Bill Weld con for attention gears up once more.

  11. Back.

    So, upon further ‘contemplation’ is there any chance Weld is just working a new grift? Is he really back to being a TOP man?

    Hey Welch, why don’t you ask him if he will agree to support whoever finally does win his party’s nomination?

    1. GOP not TOP…

      1. Too late to put *that* genie back in the bottle.

        But I can’t think of who would agree to be the bottom to Weld.

  12. Weld will be the most libertarian of all the candidates by far.

    Ironically, the H&R Peanuts still won’t vote for him.

    1. Excellent! My #UnbanPalinsButtplug campaign worked!

      Now Reason will have even more frequent updates on the dreadful state of the Drumpf economy.

      #DrumpfRecession

      1. Get yer economic updates, bet-welshing, AND kiddie porn links in one retarded hicklib package!

        1. That’s not entirely fair. Buttplug never bothered with economic updates.

    2. Libertarians don’t support gun control.

      1. Libertarians don’t support tariffs, abortion bans, torture, restrictive immigration policies, government gay-bashing, massive military spending, abusive policing, endless detention without trial, contraception prohibition, the drug war, or economic protectionism, either. This readily distinguishes most reason.com commenters, Republicans, and conservatives from libertarians.

        1. Er, that makes 10 out of 10 for Weld, and if he gets Johnson to run for veep, we can put on our 2016 campaign shirts.

        2. Nor stigmatizing the folks in fly-over country, bigoted asshole.

    3. Have you started losing weight yet, you Ron Jeremy – lookin’ disgusting fatass?

  13. Weld realizes this fundamental libertarian truth — defeating Drumpf is the highest priority. That’s why he did the smart thing and basically endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, for which I am still grateful. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, since Russia hacked the election.

    #StillWithHer

    1. Drumpf is dangerous because he is unreliable when it comes to supporting permanent war. If Weld were to win, we could very well see Hillary as Sec of State again.

  14. Weld realizes he can scam people for donations and write off all sorts of common expenses while on the campaign trail.

    Weld is utterly despicable.

  15. Is it wrong to ask for some clarification?

    1) Did Weld let Welch know BEFORE he came in his mouth?
    2) Did he at least pay Welch to blow him?

    Free minds and all.

  16. Hahaha. Bill Weld. Hahaha.

    This guy’s whole political strategy is to drag down people around him.

    There must be money in running for President, not even getting close to winning, and then living off political donations.

  17. If you had more than two links in the past, it would fail to post your comment and tell you why. Now, I guess, if you have more than one link, your comment goes to “awaiting moderation” hell. Lesson learned.

    1. Now, I guess, if you have more than one link, your comment goes to “awaiting moderation” hell. Lesson learned.

      One more think that shriek ruined.

    2. Wait what? The comments are moderated you say?

  18. I welcome Gov. Welds to the race like all others. I don’t think he can beat President Trump but the contrast will be good. What I do wonder about is all the folk that talk about cutting spending. Will they support Weld or find a rationalization for supporting President Trump?

    1. The idea that Bill Weld is for reducing the budget is almost as laughable as Trump being an anti-interventionist.

      Most people here won’t even vote.

      1. Rationalization 1

    2. “but the contrast will be good”
      Between a successful politician, and a low-level donation grifter?

    3. Let me see… hmmm… wasn’t it Bill Weld who was the Governor of Conn. who rammed through the changes to the state constitution to allow a state income tax, then pushed through the tax, and raised state spending?

      Just the guy I would pick to cut federal spending! LOL

      1. That would be Lowell Weicker, another liberal Republican. Weld was gov for MA.

  19. “An Emerson nationwide survey released this week has Trump beating Weld by a staggering 70 percentage points. More ominously, the same company this month found a 64-point margin in Weld’s home state of Massachusetts. The Weld campaign has a theory that if New Hampshire polls start creeping toward the high 20s, then you’re near the “Buchanan benchmark” of 37 percent back during Pitchfork Pat’s 1992 primary challenge to then-president George H.W. Bush.”

    The important question is whether Weld has enough financial support to last to Super Tuesday, when both California and Texas primaries coincide. I highly doubt it. And the Weld campaign citing 1992 without any mention of the recession or Ross Perot’s Reform Party is whistling past the graveyard.

    Meanwhile, Kennedy is right about Weld: No one cares. And Kennedy has been right about Weld for a long, long time.

    1. Here’s Kennedy grilling Weld over being a phony libertarian from early in the 2016 election: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfRP4SnY8_0.

    2. Here’s Kennedy grilling Johnson over his pro-Hillary Clinton running mate late in the 2016 election: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJO8oS0hwxc

      If there’s anything more absurd than Bill Weld projecting himself as a libertarian, it’s pro-Hillary Clinton Bill Weld projecting himself as a Republican.

      1. I don not think Weld’s kind words for Hillary were predicated on anything more than a sincere belief that she was going to win.

        He’s a wet noodle in the wind.

  20. Weld is one of the pro-choice candidates that got the LP national spoiler status by covering the vote gap between the Kleptocracy factions. If this results in the Landover Baptist wing dropping demands for a women-menacing constitutional Amendment it will be our biggest victory since composing Roe v Wade.

    1. Banning murder menaces women. You heard it here first, folks.

  21. It’s hilarious that anyone thinks that Bill Weld will challenge anybody.

    And sad that Reason is reacting to this with anything except disgust.

  22. The accompanying campaign video touted among other things Weld’s record as a “crime fighter,” while leaving his Libertarian adventure of 2016-2018 unmentioned.

    BECAUSE HE WAS NEVER REALLY A LIBERTARIAN

  23. Is his campaign slogan going to be: “Libertarians for a Democrat President”? Since he has NO CHANCE and all he can be is a spoiler?

  24. Honestly this is the best play for Weld. Half the LP already hated him and constantly reminded everyone he wasn’t a real libertarian. He did a bunch of convention touring last year, and I’m sure he got sick of the trash talk. Primarying Trump is going to get him a ton of media attention, because obviously anything that hurts Trump is newsworthy. I think Weld will do better than many expect.

    1. Better than Pete McCloskey in 1972?

      1. No. Yes. No.

  25. This is hilarious. Why even cover it? It is like me announcing I’m going to primary Trump. Trump can just ignore him. No debates. No campaigning needed. A nothing candidate before he faked being a libertarian then revealed himself as a Hillary lover. He probably just wants a gin sponsorship or something. Bill Weld makes the Admiral look ready for prime time.

  26. The phony libertarian who backed Hilary while still running with Gary Johnson. A liar, a loser and will be completely irrelevant and that is a good thing.

  27. It would be about the same as voting for Mitt Romney.

  28. […] It’s Official: Bill Weld Announces Primary Challenge to Donald Trump – Reason Trump It’s Official: Bill Weld Announces Primary Challenge to Donald Trump  Reason […]

  29. The fact is Weld would be a far better president that Trump. Anyone who disagrees is Not a Real Libertarian™.

  30. Squishy ex-libertarian to represent Bush/Romney wing of Republicans in the primaries.

  31. Watching Trump absolutely destroy this sickles old gelding Weld the Geld is going to be the greatest. There isn’t enough popcorn on the entire planet!!

    1. Should have read dickless old gelding.

  32. What a stupid attempt at getting attention. Seriously worse than a teenage girl on Insta’!

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  34. […] I know all I need to know about the rule of law,” has since his April 15 official announcement been ratcheting up his Trump/Russia criticism, while fundraising, he claims, is “in the […]

  35. […] the past five months, as former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld threw his hat into the ring and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan played footsie with a run, the RNC has merged with […]

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